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What is Black Mulch?

Misty Amber Brighton
Misty Amber Brighton

Black mulch is a type of mulch, or protective cover for soil, that may have a dye added to make it black in color. It can be made of plastic, rubber, or wood. It is often used in flowerbeds, walkways, and playgrounds to add visual interest to the items around it. This product might also be used to help heat the soil and attract sunlight when used in cool or shady areas.

Wood is often used for making black mulch. Many times this type is made of cedar or old pallets that have been shredded. This colored mulch may have a carbon-based dye added to it. It could also be tinted with a chemical-based dye in order to darken it.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Old tires can also be used as a type of black mulch. These may be shredded into long, thin strips or round nuggets. This kind of mulch can be somewhat soft and spongy to walk on. Diamond Safety Concepts, an Ohio-based, U.S. company that specializes in creating safe work environments, claims that a six-inch (15.24 cm) layer of this product can cushion a fall from up to 12 feet (3.66 m) high. For this reason, it is often used on children's playgrounds to protect them from falls and scrapes.

Tire mulch might also be used in horse stables. It helps keep the amount of dust down while being gentle to the animal's joints. It can also cushion a rider if he happens to fall in the area.

Black mulch is also sometimes made of plastic. It can be placed around the base of plants in order to help keep the soil warm and extend the growing season. It may also help reflect solar rays, so some varieties may not need to be planted in direct sunlight when surrounded with this product.

There are a number of dangers of black mulch that should be considered before using this item. Plastic and rubber types may leak harmful chemicals into the soil. The artificial dyes used in some wood mulches can also be harmful to garden plants, especially vegetables. Caution must be taken to keep toxins from entering the soil. One way to do this could be to place a piece of plastic on top of the ground before applying the mulch.

When gardeners apply black mulch carefully, it can be a useful tool in a home landscape. Knowing the pros and cons of this product can help many homeowners with this task. This knowledge can also be important in helping them protect the environment, garden plants, and children.

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Discussion Comments


@ysmina-- Whatever you do, don't use rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is made from rubber tires and contains chemicals and heavy metals that mix into soil. These chemicals and heavy metals can eventually end up in ground water.

I've also heard that rubber mulch can release hazardous gasses when exposed to heat from the sun.

Many people say that rubber mulch is environmentally friendly. But it's not health friendly! It doesn't look as good as organic mulch and it also doesn't have the pleasant scent of organic mulch.


@ysmina-- It's true that some colored mulch is potentially hazardous because of the chemicals and dyes used. But there are also great and completely safe colored mulch options out there. I recommend doing plenty of research before deciding on a mulch. Don't be afraid to ask a manufacturer questions if you are not sure how their colored mulch is made.

I use black mulch just for the color, to add contrast to my garden. The type I use is all natural, made from wood chips and colored with safe, water based dye.

Of course there are other factors to consider as well, such as uniform color and the amount of time the color lasts. All mulch fades with time and this applies to colored mulch as well. But some colored mulch last much longer than others.


I'm interested in black mulch but I certainly don't want to use something that's harmful to soil or the environment.

Does anyone here use black mulch on their property or yard? What was your reason for choosing this type of mulch? Do you recommend it?

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